On September 6th 2021 in response to the ISIS-inspired Lynn mall attack, the government-owned and funded 1 News broadcasted to the public that the authorities should focus on “extremists we can’t deport”, and on the importance to “intervene early on, as soon as people are showing problematic signs”. They went on to define “problematic signs” as “any extremist— whether it’s around disinformation, right-wing extremism or conspiracy theories— what they all have in common is that they don’t trust the state.”
This kind of sentiment being fed to the public is carefully worded to reinforce the connection between all political dissidence (particularly from the Right), and terror attacks committed in the name of ISIS. This is completely nonsensical, namely because ISIS (or ISIL) exists in opposition to the traditional Right, and rather exists under a neoconservative (or Trotskyist) agenda.
It doesn’t matter to the establishment that this logic is backwards, for it is actually what they need in their lead-up to the reveal of the government’s new ‘intervention scheme’, which should solve the loophole of “problematic signs” not being acted upon. Their wording is an immediate red flag, as it will give the government enough power to criminalise any political dissidence against the state. On the other hand, perhaps 1 News was merely overplaying things, and the ‘intervention scheme’ won’t really do all that is claimed. Either way we can’t know until we look into what exactly this scheme is.
A number of new bills have just passed the select house committee reading after being rushed through by the government. Among them is the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill and the Films, Videos and Publications Ammendment Bill.
Let’s start with the former. The key law changes in the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Bill are that any plans or ‘other preparations’ for an ‘act of terror’ will be criminalised with a penalty of up to 7 years imprisonment. Extra enforcement powers give a constable who on ‘reasonable grounds’ suspects someone of ‘preparations’ the power to search their house, car, devices and person without needing a warrant.
What constitutes “reasonable grounds” you ask? Well, as this is a legally vague and subjective term, its use would be entirely up to the constable involved. As for the suspect’s rights, they can only apply for judicial review well after any search. Such a review would not shine any spotlight on the constable, so they can rest assured in knowing that after a long day of targeting political dissidents without any real evidence, they will have no chance of facing any legal repercussions.
But never fear, for as long as there’s no evidence of terror attack preparations you should be safe, right? Well, that’s where the films and publications legislation comes in.
Current objectionable material legislation criminalises the possession of any films, books, recordings or internet files deemed to be ‘objectionable’. Liable material includes anything that demeans or offends anyone, as well as anything that implies that someone is inferior based on their race, sexuality, religious, political or even ‘ethical’ beliefs. There are a few problems here; one being that holding material that implies certain politicians are inferior is something that I’m sure almost every semi-political New Zealander is guilty of. The other problem is that there won’t be any security as to what the constable deems to be objectionable, as it will be up to their individual judgement for which they will be completely immune to any legal repercussions, should the process be proven unjust.
So to be clear: if a constable finds what they personally deems to be ‘objectionable material’ during a warrantless search, they may seize it and— when found guilty— fine the dissident up to $50,000 or give them a prison term of up to 10 years.
Locking up political dissidents at will is an act of tyrannical state power that is very nearly within the reach of Jacinda Ardern’s Government. However, it doesn’t stop there.
Even if a dissident has deleted all of their files, articles and memes that could be construed as offences, these laws still have other ways of interfering with their life. With the powers being introduced by the new films and publications bill, they could expect to lose access to all of their favourite political wrong-think websites as they are taken down one-by-one by an inspector or classifications office. This bill is what Jacinda Ardern is using as a means of targeting ‘online radicalisation’ at its source. It will essentially grant a constable or other inspector under immunity the ability to create a permanent take-down request on ‘reasonable grounds’ that the online publication is objectionable. An appeal to such an offence may only be made to a classifications office, the members of which are also all immune to any liability in their decision. To top it all off, if a content host refuses to adhere to the take-down notice, the court is not even allowed to examine the merits of the notice, even if it’s absurd. What the courts will do is decide the penalty that the content host must pay, depending not on the host’s innocence but rather on to what extent they refused the request. This penalty could reach as high as $200,000 just for one take-down request.
So, if you happen to run a website or blog with which you publish material that could be seen as ‘demeaning’ to politicians or other such contemptible people, you should be extremely concerned about this bill as it will essentially outlaw all of your writings. This legislation also criminalises getting on the wrong side of individual constables, committees, and the small but vocal ‘cancel culture’ mobs. When everything is illegal, only those petty few— those “perpetually offended” as ACT’s David Seymour calls them— will have the power to make decisions about what is, and what is not banned. Allowing these bills to pass will accelerate the establishment in its quest to fulfil a seemingly complete and utter anarcho-tyranny in New Zealand.